So I’ve been writing a lot about the importance of positive relationships and school culture these days, and one day I’m sure I’ll change my focus to something else, but today is not that day. Today I want to briefly talk about what’s at the core of both of these things, and the one thing that drives all of our relationships, our school initiatives, and our daily interactions with each other…today I want to talk about trust. The thing about trust is that it looks different for everyone, and inevitably it takes time to arrive at a place where a solid foundation is set in both our individual, personal relationships, and in larger groups like grade level teams, departments, and in a whole school faculty. Some people are trusting by nature, even to a fault, while others are more reserved and cautious depending on past experiences. It can be hard to give over your trust to someone you don’t really know, and even harder to rebuild trust once it’s broken, and the really tricky bit is that without trust, nothing meaningful will ever happen in schools.
If you look deeply into what separates a great school from good one, it ultimately comes down to the level of trust that people have with each other. In great schools leaders trust people to do their jobs and they don’t micromanage, teachers trust each other and are vulnerable enough to share what’s working and NOT working in their classrooms, people have the courage to have hard conversations with each other while presuming positive intent, and in great schools there is a trust that all decisions are being made around what’s best for students and student learning. Ernest Hemingway said it best in the quote below, “the best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them”, and as we dig into some transformational work over the next couple of years, we need to continue to trust each other…nothing is more important and foundational than that.
Obviously, it’s very easy to say go trust someone and much harder to actually do it, and if you find yourself struggling for whatever reason to trust a person or to be trusting in a larger group setting, the best way forward is to identify what it is that’s stopping you and act. A perfect example of this happened to me last week, when I was involved in a miscommunication with a couple of teachers, which could have negatively impacted our relationship had we not sat down and cleared it up with a some difficult conversations. In the end, these conversations identified the miscommunication, cleared up some expectations, and ultimately strengthened our relationships. Our level of trust with each other increased dramatically because we had the courage to talk about it and not let it linger and fester and grow into resentment. A major component of building trust is the ability that we all have to confront issues that can possibly be divisive, and to have these difficult conversations from a place of positive intent. In the end we all want the same things…to be valued, to be heard, to be respected, and to do what’s best for our school and each other…and it all comes down to trust.
So, I’m asking us all this week to look inwardly and to identify anything that might be stopping you from trusting someone, or from being a trusted member of a group. Then, find the courage to move past it through a conversation, some self reflection, or a simple re-set of mindset, and then…take the leap! Think about Hemingway’s quote and trust someone…it’ll make all the difference. Have a great week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…
The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them
– Ernest Hemingway
Inspiring Videos –
Related Articles –
The Importance of Building Trust
TED Talks –
What We Don’t Understand About Trust
How to Build and Re-Build Trust
Simon Sinek –
One thought on “Trust Me”
I totally agree. As Daniel puts it, having the courage to express professional, proactive conversations in schools requires trust. In my experience, presuming positive intent does not happen as often as it should. Sadly enough, we expect this from our students and we do not observe it in our adult, professional interactions. I am one of those teachers who has constructed a career in putting students’ best interest , well-being, and trust at the top of my decision making, even if it compromises my own. However, some of the most difficult moments of my teaching career have been characterized by the lack of the positive intent presumption. In the end, I have happily payed the price because nothing is more valuable to me than to see the trust my students have placed in me as their teacher; it is an extremely powerful feeling and motivation. Thank you, Daniel for sharing this delicate issue. Let it spark hope as we continue to trust each other and build this trust in our educational communities.